St. Patrick’s Day: Rifts and Reconciliation

St. Patrick’s Day is a light-hearted celebration day. At least in the States. Everyone wants to be Irish. All the things, clothes, and food are green. Or you’ll get pinched.

I even gave into the spirit of the day. Irish Pandora playing (Chieftains for the win!) while I baked scones donned in a green shirt. My Irish great- uncle would be proud. Or at least amused.

Throughout the day, I’ve been thinking about the more serious, tragic themes of St. Patrick’s story and the reasons behind the green and orange colors: slavery, religious wars, paganism, Patrick’s own animosity to his Creator. These in turn remind me of the rifts I see today. Dissent and polarization in politics, denominations, and even families. Slavery still to be eradicated. Hate-filled wars continue. People still reject their Creator.

But then there are other themes from St. Patrick’s story: Patrick’s reconciliation to God, his forgiveness and missionary work for his former enslavers, freedom from paganism for those who believed in Christ.

Patrick’s story that reminds me of Joseph in the Bible. And Paul. In these stories and more throughout history, God has shown himself powerful to work even in the bleakest, most hopeless situations. And His purposes led to life for his people, even when it seems all is lost.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭

That gives me hope for the rifts today. Hope to pray for reconciliation. Hope that God is still at work. Hope to keep doing the work he gives.

When Anxiety is Great

Whatever anxiety it is that may grip my heart, my Heavenly Father has a consolation to meet it; a beautiful majesty of his character that surpasses any worry. Loneliness is met with his presence. Animosity is met with his love. Guilt and failure are met with his forgiveness and mercy. Weakness is met with his strength. Hard tasks are met with his grace. Decisions are met with his wisdom. Difficult situations are met with his peace. Grief is met with his comfort. Indifference is met with his compassion. Weak faith is met with his abundance. Lies are met with the truth of his Word. All the evil done in the world will be met with judgment. All those who hope in God will be with him forever.

Therefore, little heart, obey his call to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Does Peace Reign?

What a heart check for a Wednesday morning.

What is gripping my heart and thoughts this mid-week day? The pressure of finances? Approval from administration at work? Worries about my students and family? Dread over a busy week?

Or is peace and thanksgiving setting my heart free? Instead of strangling my joy with worries and “what ifs”, am I casting my cares on God while trusting that he cares for me… and for those I care about? Am I letting the peace that comes for Christ rule my heart, and doing so with Thanksgiving?

Do not sit down in despair; hope on, hope ever. There is one who cares for you. His eye is fixed on you, His heart beats in pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent will bring you the needed help. He, if you are one of his family, will bind up your wounds and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt his grace because of your tribulation, but believe that he loves you as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. — Spurgeon

Peace

The world gives peace only when there is no fear. When there is no fear, a person is at peace. However, this verse implies the opposite. Followers of Christ are at peace, so they need not be afraid. Peace in Christ does not mean the absence of frightening things or trouble, but peace in it.

Jesus gives his followers his peace. This is the death-defying peace of the Divine Son of God who sweat drops of blood a few hours later at the prospect of his sacrifice on the cross. The peace that asked for that cup to pass, but desired the will of the Father over being spared from suffering. The peace of the One who was the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with sorrow, who bore our iniquity and griefs. The peace of the One who endured the cross because he had set the joy before him. The peace of the Son with the Father.

This is no ordinary peace. It trusts the will of the Father, even unto death. It focuses on the joy of God’s promise, not the situation. Even more than all of that, it is peace with the Father. This peace of a heart is possible only for one no longer under condemnation, but under God’s banner of love as his child.

This moves my heart to pray for the ability to believe and practice this peace. May I be able to say whole-heartedly with the Psalmist:

“I have set the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand,

I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad,

and my whole being rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures

forevermore.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:8-11‬ ‭

Abide and Rest

Mondays can be busy days. Or maybe they only seem more busy because it’s the first workday after the weekend. Too often the temptation can be to give in to the tyranny of the urgent and dive willingly into the rush that offers no real rest or relief… at least it is for me.

So how welcome this reminder is to dwell, to stay, to abide, to find rest in the shelter of the Almighty. The One who gives work and gives rest. The One who does not call for a frenzied rush, but endurance in doing good. The One who, for the believer, has already assigned eternal favor and the worth of being his child. The One who, in his matchless power, is working all things out for the good of those who trust in him.

How different would each hour be if his children (including this one) abided in his love and shelter, even while out working in the world? How different would it be if his children anchored their soul in the bedrock of eternal hope instead of striving and trusting in the efforts of man, including themselves?

Sunday Song: I Will Sing of my Redeemer

The book of Psalms is a great gift. It teaches us to remember, to trust, to cry out, to rejoice… in song.

When troubles, worries, temptations, and frustrations take hold, when I can’t see past tomorrow’s responsibilities or today’s failures, when I’m gladdened with deep joy and contentment, my soul needs most to remember Christ’s great sacrifice on my behalf. And from that remembrance, my soul and body must join together and sing.

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

Thanks and credit to Marianne Kim who inspired the introduction.